Our friends from Canada, Chris and Arleen and their two girls Alexa and Brittney, came to visit us on Wednesday (a nice Canada Day event). This is the first visit to mainland Europe for everyone but Arleen, so it was pretty exciting.
After a heart-stopping run back to the train for a forgotten bag, (Chris ran ahead of me and I had a minute where I thought the train had taken off again with him on it. That would have been interesting), we took the weary travellers to the hotel.
After a quick freshening up, we went for our first look at the Altstadt (old city center) and had a drink at the top of the city hall. They held up well into early evening, but then after a simple dinner everyone crashed.
Thursday we decided to experience that most traditional of Austrian traditions, a hike up the Alps. I was going to put Annie in daycare, as her legs are still a bit short to do any serious hiking, but she seemed so upset to leave her “friends” that I couldn’t bring myself to do it. So we compromised and choose to go to Mutters, where Annie and I would take the gondola up and wait at the playground for the rest of the crew to have lunch. The best laid plans….
We started on the streetcar, as with Annie we were too many for the car. Alexa and Brit entertained Annie, mostly by “washing” their hair. (I think I used the quotation marks correctly there.)
And then we learned that the gondola was closed until the start of the summer season, which is next week. Darn. I thought it best to take Annie home, but Chris offered to carry her up the hill. Even though this is one fit family — 15-year-old Alexa just finished her first junior marathon, Brit plays basketball and Chris and Arleen both run — it is still a big undertaking to haul a 15 kg squirmy girl up a mountain. But we decided to try. (Rebecca didn’t join us, as she was finishing her art project.)
Annie had a blast after being bribed onto Chris’ shoulders with the promise of a mountain-top playground. And then she fell asleep in Chris’ arms. This is her cranky face as she is trying to sleep a little bit longer.
The steep hike was a little longer than expected — a full hour and a half instead of an hour — so we were all ready for lunch at the top. Radlers (lemonade and beer) and Almdudler (gingerale-type drink) quenched our thirst, hot cheese dumplings and wurst filled us up, and then we hung out with the cows and goats.
Markus took us the long way down, trading off with Chris carrying Annie (what heroes!) so our adventure took around 6 hours. The views were gorgeous, as always, and it was a good introduction to this part of the world. But we did have to promise the girls that they wouldn’t have to do it again. Fair enough.